Well, I logged on in order to write a more substantial piece on the cruise ship gambling, but the Gitmo Bermudian settlement has kind of trumped that for now.
I’ve written a piece on Progressive Minds and started a poll there as well (see http://www.progressiveminds.bm/?q=node/380), which I wrote more or less after only reading the report on CNN and the RG. I have since had a chance to scope out the other blogs and forums. VexedBermoothes has a good article on the issue, and there is a running thread on the forums BIAW and Sucks.
My position remains substantially unchanged.
I should stress that I am sympathetic to the cause of Uigur autonomy and rights. I worked and lived in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for about six months, living in Nanjing, just north of Shanghai. While there I became quite friendly with some of the Uighurs living there – they are not allowed to leave the PRC, but travel more or less freely within it. For one thing, their food is terrific, best food I ever had in China, which is how I came to be friendly with them.
I have also long opposed the US policy of Gitmo detainees which I see as contrary to international law and a de facto concentration camp. I have also opposed the US policy of rendition flights, and also put forward the fact that our airport has apparently been used to facilitate such renditions.
The thing is, the US government has assured Bermuda, in the form of Dr. Brown, that these four Uighurs are considered innocent. Thats fine. I am not necessarily going to dispute that. But the detainee problem is a US problem. It is US made, and as a result there should be a US solution. Pawning the problem off to smaller countries is a load of bull. If these detainees are innocent, and if the US is not willing to repatriate them to the PRC for the legitimate reason of fearing their resulting persecution there, then the US should take care of them.
I am sure that would upset the Chinese, but surely the US is better able to suffer those consequences than tiny Albania, Palau and now Bermuda?
There are those who will defend this action as a humanitarian action. That is false. Under international law (caveat – I am not a lawyer) as I understand it, the detainees are a US problem and they are obligated to take them in if they are not secure in repatriating them to the PRC.
Its hard not to conclude that Bermuda was either threatened (perhaps as regards our ‘tax haven’ status) or ‘encouraged’ (which would mean bribed) to take these people. That’s not good enough. Any such action, not only would it be unconstitutional (under our current constitutional status with the UK), but it would also amount to treason.
I don’t understand what Dr. Brown was thinking with this decision. Perhaps he felt that he had no choice (depending on the pressure being used) – but still, surely he could have asked the UK for assistance with this? It would have been far better to be straight up with the people and say that the Americans want us to do such and such or they will do this, or, if we do this, the Americans will do this for us, and what do you think about that? But acting as he has, to me amounts to treason, capitulating to a foreign power.
I will be surprised to find that the majority of Bermudians, let alone members of the Party are going to be supportive of this move. If anything this will further encourage those within the Party to move to replace Dr. Brown, and to do it properly, within the means of the Party’s Constitution.
Again, this is nothing against the detainees. But this is a US problem, and the US should take them in, not us.
Perhaps people should start organising a demonstration against this decision outside the US Consulate? And Cabinet too for that matter.